The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently awarded the Moffitt Cancer Center (MCC) in Tampa, Florida a $3.6 million grant in order to evaluate the effects of electronic cigarettes, commonly known as “e-cigarettes” or “e-cigs” for short, during the next five years.
Outbreak News Today reports that the MCC will study the effects of e-cigs, considering their rise in popularity over the past decade. Millions of Americans claim to use e-cigs, which “vaporize” a nicotine-laden liquid rather than burn regular tobacco. In 2013, the e-cig industry was valued at a whopping $1.7 billion.
Conventional wisdom deems e-cigs safer than regular cigarettes, although there is scant scientific evidence to say that for certain. Many e-cig users claim to use them in order to quit or curtail their smoking habits. However, little research indicates that e-cigs can combat cigarette addiction in any noticeable way.
The objective of the NIH grant is for researchers at MCC to study how e-cigs are used over long periods of time. Specifically, the researchers want to find out if they can actual help users quit smoking regular cigarettes. The first year of the study will involve interviewing e-cig users and collecting information about their experiences: when they use it, how often they smoke, why they took it up, and their general perceptions of e-cigs. The study group will include tobacco smokers as well (some of whom may smoke e-cigs on top of tobacco cigarettes).
Dr. Thomas Brandon, PhD, the director of the Tobacco Research and Intervention Program at MCC, said that “public health researchers are really playing catch-up with the explosion of e-cigarettes onto the marketplace.”
“Millions of smokers are using e-cigarettes to try to quit smoking, yet because there is a lack of data, we are not able to advise them whether that is an effective smoking cessation strategy,” he continued. “This study should provide some answers that will be very useful to smokers as they consider ways to quit.”